Open letter to education minister

2016-09-21 06:00

DEAR Minister Blade Nzimande.

It is with great distress that I pen this letter to you. I am the councillor for Ward 33 in Msunduzi Municipality where the University of KwaZulu-Natal is based.

I am sure you are aware of the student protests and riots at this campus, which have escalated over the past week.

The protests and riots are affecting the entire neighbourhood, in so far that primary school pupils walking home from school and residents visiting the shops were exposed to the tear gas from police trying to disperse and control the students.

The recent burning of a hall at one of the university residences resulted in mayhem in the neighbourhood, as the fire brigade had to block off the road to access the fire and this affected residents getting out of the area.

There are also quite a few pre-primary and primary schools around UKZN, and the potential danger that these young children are exposed is frankly unacceptable.

The university management has decided to close the university due to the disruptions, and now some final-year students are in danger of not completing their degrees.

The Democratic Alliance condemns in no uncertain terms the burning of UKZN facilities, and calls for police to arrest the perpetrators.

We are also concerned about claims of police brutality.

We call upon the students who were allegedly attacked by the police to come forward and report these incidents. The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (Daso) will assist affected students by reporting these alleged incidents to the IPID.

While the DA and Daso support the constitutional rights of students to protest, we believe this must be done within the confines of the laws of the university and that of the Republic. This should infringe on peoples’ right(s).

This ongoing issue requires urgent and immediate action by your office.

Minister, can you either visit the afflicted campus, or send a representative from your office as a matter of urgency to meet with the protesting students and the university management.

Uraisha Haswell Ward 33 Councillor Msunduzi Municipality

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